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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Palestine Peace Not Aparheid

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid
By Jimmy Carter
Simon and Schuster Paperback
with a new Afterword, 2007

Carter says he received the more negative response to this book than any he had ever written before. His afterword makes it clear he does not retract any of his words written in the 2006 edition.

Carter’s description of the plight of the Palestinians, the poverty, absence of rights, persecution, destruction of homes and orchards, loss of life and the sick and wounded is painful to read. The Palestinians are second or third class citizens in the land they have lived in for thousands of years. Carter is quite correct in calling the situation apartheid. The situation is the same as what the white South Africans did to the native Africans.

American Jews both liberal and conservative are enormously sensitive to criticism of Israel. Many American Jews are critical of the policies of the various Israeli governments’ policies toward the Palestinians over the last twenty years. Many Israeli citizens are equally critical. Their voices are drowned by the complex multi-party system of government which most often ends up with compromises resulting in very conservative hard line elected leadership.

Carter points out that there is no debate in American politics about Israel. Politicians fear retaliation against them by the power and wealthy American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This group has frightened voices in the pubic arena so that a balanced debate is practically non-existent in the U.S. Congress or among presidential hopefuls. Candidates critical of Israel found money pumped into opponent’s campaign by AIPAC. There is little discussion of these issues in American churches. Where there is it is seldom covered by the media.

While Carter acknowledges Israel’s intransigence and Palestinian stubbornness, he continues to call for negotiations and dialogue between these two groups. I love the quote from a retired Air Force officer, “If they can fight for seven years, why can’t they negotiate for seven years instead?”

Carter’s presentation of the complexities of the inter-Arab world is clear, concise and fair. He has been there, visited with the leadership, and he knows whereof he speaks.

For many secular Jews Israel has become their God. The nation has become an object of worship – what one gives worth to. Since the secular gods of money and power are seen as of little worth, Israel and its survival has become a new deity. This results in an evangelistic fervor for all things Israeli. That nation can do no wrong.

Israel is trumpeted as the only democracy in the Middle East. Yet the government, rich and powerful, with the backing of the U.S. and most of Europe, cannot find peace with their Palestinian neighbors and instead keeps them in bondage. AIPAC uses its wealth and power to stymie the democratic process by threatening the political careers of anyone in the public arena who criticizes Israeli policies.

Carter gives a balanced presentation of what is needed to bring about peace between the Israeli government and the Palestinians. One can only hope all leaders will read and understand and take action on his wisdom.

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